With Los Angeles abuzz in pre-Oscar festivities, it seems that it's become time to weigh in on this year's awards and to offer a few predictions about who might go home with some hardware.
Saturday afternoon, amidst what is predicted to be a stormy and cold Spirit Awards under the tent in Santa Monica, it seems safe to say that the Documentary Feature award will go to either EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP or RESTREPO. The history of the Spirit Awards is that, in the documentary category at least, exposure/box office potency = the win. Only twice in the ten years of the Best Documentary award has the winner not been a film with the highest box office take - last year was one of those when ANVIL! topped FOOD, INC.
[Check out our list of all of the Spirit Awards nominees and winners in the documentary categories here.]
With that said, it's hard to imagine that the FIND membership will go with MARWENCOL or SWEETGRASS, which had lower-profile theatrical releases, or to THUNDER SOUL, which is set to be released by Roadside Attractions this fall.
Just by tradition alone, you'd have to pick EXIT as the winner here. It grossed about three times the amount that RESTREPO did, and it fits in with the pop culture themes that tend to win on Saturday (i.e. previous winners DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS, SOME KIND OF MONSTER, ANVIL!). A non-pop culture, vérite-style film, which, aside from a sprinkling of interviews with the subjects, RESTREPO is, hasn't won the Documentary award at the Spirits since 2000 (DARK DAYS).
Note: MARWENCOL and SWEETGRASS, along with SUMMER PASTURE, were nominated for the Spirit Awards' grant prize, the Truer Than Fiction Award, which recognizes upcoming nonfiction filmmakers (and which has been won in the past by Bill and Turner Ross (45365), Margaret Brown (THE ORDER OF MYTHS) and Ian Olds & Garrett Scott (OPERATION: DREAMLAND). For the first time in the Spirit Awards history, this award (along with the other grant prizes for upcoming narrative filmmaker and producer) will not be announced during the Spirit Awards themselves - they were shifted to a brunch event that took place in January. MARWENCOL was named as this year's winner.
So, if EXIT looks like a straight-away winner at the Spirit Awards, then the question is whether Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz triumph on Sunday afternoon in the Kodak Theatre.